By Ivan G. Goldman
If Showtime executives think they can turn a profit from this pay-per-view bout, I bow to their financial acumen. After all, they have a long history of making lots more money than I do.
But paying extra cash September 12 (probably somewhere north of $75) to see a defense-minded champion compete against a shooting star who burned out and fell to earth several fights ago doesn’t look like a terribly attractive deal.
I suppose we’re supposed to think this is probably the last go-around for Floyd “The Best Ever” Mayweather so we better line up for this match while he’s still kind enough to compete against Andre Berto because this is history. Maybe.
Floyd, 48-0, 26 KOs, has sometimes said he’d quit after this, his last event in a six-fight contract with Showtime. But Floyd once told fans they could choose between Amir Khan or Marcos Maidana as his next opponent. They chose Khan, and he fought Maidana. Twice.
A 49-0 record would tie Rocky Marciano, but a 50-0? Well, that could mean a lot to Floyd.
There are many ways to assess Mayweather’s career, but I divide it into two principal parts: before Carlos Baldomir and after Carlos Baldomir. That’s when Larry Merchant, on camera, pointed out to Floyd in the post-fight interview that fans were booing and leaving early because the fight was so boring.
Floyd cussed out Larry, went down to the press conference in the bowels of the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, began weeping, and announced his retirement.
To me that was the turning point, when Merchant, a wise old curmudgeon, said out loud that the emperor had no clothes, or at least not much offense.
But Floyd quickly came out of retirement and scored a thrilling knockout victory over Ricky Hatton and a deluded team of Brits who thought their body-punching hero could catch up to Floyd eventually.
Most boxing historians look upon Mayweather versus Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 as the defining bout in Mayweather’s career because he made a pile of money and never again fought on a non-PPV card. It was yet another dull fight won by split decision.
Since then we’ve had some good moments but mostly lots more of the same torpid action. And 2007 was a long time ago. The Best Ever, now 38, whose ring aliases have also included “Money” and “Pretty Boy,” continues to campaign with exquisite defensive dexterity and enough offense to win most of the rounds.
Over the years he’s captured headlines in a number of ways. He did two months in the slammer on a domestic violence beef and later collected the biggest purse ever – somewhere above $200 million – against Manny Pacquiao.
He became a promoter and presumably plans to remain one when he quits the ring.
Berto, 30-3, 23 KOs, has lost three of his last five. He doesn’t belong on pay-per-view against anyone. He’s not ranked anywhere near the top ten of the welterweight division and there will have to be some quick moves to make this a title fight, which it most assuredly will be if the sanctioning fees are paid because the alphabet gangs want a piece of the action. The WBO recently stripped Mayweather of its welterweight title only after he stiffed the group of its fee when he fought Pacquiao.
Mayweather has defeated a long, long list of champions and excellent contenders. But unless the undercard is fabulous, his outing against Berto in Las Vegas should have been a free fight.
Floyd’s already hinted that a Shawn Porter-Adrien Broner rematch of their first crappy fight will have a place on the card. Not a good sign.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.